Days of Clover: Planning, Building and Growing

Over the last month we have been busy, busy, bu-sy with garden projects. New fence posts have been concreted in and new fence panels erected after high winds blew the old fence down. A new deck has been built outside the garden studio, which i’m very excited about as it will be my new meditation and yoga spot – when the weather permits, of course! Some very exciting house improvements are starting to come to fruition too, but I’ll save those for another post.

We were really lucky; not long before the fence was blown down we decided to move our greenhouse away from it. Had the greenhouse remained where it was we would have been facing a lot of broken glass in addition to the splintery wooden mass that was unceremoniously deposited in a great heap. Because there is always a silver lining; replacing the fence made us look at the space in a new light and we plan to use the area for growing food. Although not the biggest of areas, we do think we can make it work for us and are quite excited to get going with the growing. However, Our next job, is to order some replacement glass panels for the greenhouse. We did decide (rather stupidly) to glaze the greenhouse on a very windy day: a very Terry and June debacle ensued, resulting in numerous broken panes. We also ran out of glazing clips to hold the glass in so couldn’t finish installing the glass we had. Extras have now arrived, so work can recommence.

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There is already in place a large brick raised bed that forms part of the retaining wall that separates the upper garden from the lower garden and lawns. This raised bed is already brimming with culinary herbs for cooking and making teas. I did try to grow spinach in there too this year and although the seedlings came up, they were very quickly crowded out by the well established herbs.

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The rear elevation of the garage provides us with a handy spot to espalier the greengage tree that my beloved gave me for my birthday this year. I also plan to re-pot a lovely gooseberry bush I already have and I’m mulling adding a raspberry bush too, to create a soft fruit area. I’ll probably move the potatoes from their current location on the patio – where they sit admidst pots of alliums and lilies and look a little out of place- to the new ‘market garden’. We grow potatoes in those growing sacks that you can pick up in Poundland. We’ve been growing them this for years and always get a decent yield.

At the moment there is a large, very dilapidated and ugly coal bunker alongside the boundary fence between us and our lovely neighbour. The previous owner of the house filled it with compost and used it as a planter. We had thought to re-purpose it to grow salad and vegetables in, but given its poor state and that it previously was a working coal bunker, we didn’t think it prudent to risk contaminants leeching out of the concrete and back into the soil. We will replace the coal bunker with some wooden raised beds instead, which will mean we can also move them if we need to.

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Not so pretty coal bunker and mess!

 

 

 

If anyone has any fruit and veg recommendations or growing tips please leave them in the comments.

Love and light

Stella

Life: Planning, Projects and Poetry

I’ve been feeling good lately……really good. I’m brimming with energy, expansive of heart and mind and throwing myself into the projects I’ve been intending to do for ages. I’ve really been enjoying getting back into research and have started ploughing through my (unfinished) PhD on the influence of folk song and ballads on Pre-Raphaelite visual and literary culture, to see what can be salvaged from the wreckage and turned into something useful. There are some really interesting nuggets in it and what I’m now trying to decide is; do I turn what I have into a book; produce a series of articles for journals, or and this is the big one do I consider returning to university to complete it? Either way it’s all pretty exciting to think about.

I’m also underway planning a book about holistic living. It started as a recipe book but has grown organically into something broader that takes in my triumvirate of home, health and the arts. For as long as I can remember all the things that constitute a healthy, happy and sustainable home has been at the centre of my existence. I have shelves full of household manuals, cookery books and art and design books (vintage and modern) and call it synchronicity or a zeitgeist but everything seems to have come together right now for me to start work on something of my own.

I suddenly feel like I’ve got an awful lot to say and share.

Speaking of things to share; while I was sorting through boxes of notebooks I found one full of poetry that I wrote between 1995 -2003. Although much of it is pretty amateurish, there are odd ones that although not literary masterpieces -I’m no Christina Rossetti or Emily Bronte, that’s for sure- have some merit. I found the following, written in July 1998 and think it has a nice, bright atmosphere to it.

Enchantment

From earth to root
through trunk to heart,
a net of esoteric whisper
pulsing in the quickened dark,
weaves the breath of the awakened.
From heart to branch
through twig and sap,
rising to a leafy mantle
flows the light of the enchanted one,
glowing bright, within the dark.

Love and Light

Stella x

How do you do the least harm possible when it becomes detrimental to do the least harm possible?

Over the last twelve months quite a number of the plant-based/vegan diet and lifestyle influencers have come out and admitted that for health reasons they are no longer able to follow the lifestyle they have previously advocated. I do not judge any of them for this. I too have had my struggles on a plant-based diet and have the nerve damage to prove it. What does surprise me, however is how many of the former influencers become full on carnivores. They seem to just walk away from their former beliefs without a backward glance.

I fully believe that a plant -based diet is incredibly healthy and the most ethical and morally correct diet to follow. I know many advocates of plant based eating who thrive and are exemplars of fantastically good health.  But as I have already alluded I, myself have had terrible struggles with being fully plant-based and my health. As such, over the last three years I have spent a lot of time educating myself on how I can be vital and healthy while following a plant-based diet. Cue several courses on nutrition and extensive reading on both plant based living, my two health conditions and empirical observations based on self conducted dietary trials.

Any good nutrition course will recommend minimal consumption of animal based products and encourage obtaining protein from things like beans and legumes, Tofu, nuts and seeds etc. Likewise all the good plant-based/vegan resources advocate taking a B12 supplement and to seek out plant-based foods that have been fortified with it. B12 naturally occurs in animal products like dairy, meat, fish and eggs and without it we would experience weakness, tiredness, nerve damage and vision loss (to name but a few) so it essential if you are plant based to ensure that you are properly dosed.

However it is here that my own tale begins. I was supplementing and consuming fortified products and yet I still ended up with a severe deficiency in B12 and a plethora of other vitamins. The problem being for me that I have both Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and severe IBS. The Hashimoto’s means that I have very low stomach acid and impaired digestion, meaning that my body does not get all the nutrients out of my food; incidentally, B12 deficiency is very common even among meat and dairy eating Hashimoto’s patients. To manage the symptoms of Hashimoto’s and reduce the risk of an autoimmune attack I have also had to make impose further dietary restrictions including eliminating any thing anything soya based, (tofu etc) from my diet. I also can’t consume gluten, alcohol, caffeine, cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli etc) or (irrelevantly in my case) dairy.

Similarly the IBS has it’s own list of food restrictions, in particular those high in “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols” – FODMAP, for short. Foods high in FODMAP often trigger an IBS attack (diarrhoea, stomach cramping, fatigue and brain fog) and include various fruits and vegetables, but most significantly in relation to this post, legumes such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans. All of which as we know, are the main source of protein in a plant-based diet.

However, like the the foods listed on the Hashimoto’s list rather than just accept that I can’t eat these things I have endeavoured to conduct various food trials over a 3 year period and see what my limitations are. My aim has been to reduce the frequency and duration of both autoimmune and IBS attacks while maintaining a diet that is predominantly plant-based. By the end of 2019 I had a solid idea of what I can and can’t eat. Small quantities of kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils are OK; but by small I mean small and not enough to fulfil my body’s daily protein requirements. Soya is a total no go. In addition to the problems soya products cause with regards to the absorption of my Levothyroxine, they also causes – and there is no nice way to put this-……….bowelmageddon. Which in itself might sound trivial but the ‘upset’ as with an IBS attack can last up to a week and affects the digestion of food I consume post a ‘soya event’. I do not function during these occurrences and am bed bound for the duration.

After much experimentation I have arrived at place that works for me physically. But morally and ethically I feel very much between a rock and hard place. I have reintroduced eggs and in the full interest of disclosure haven’t had a problem with B12 since. I also eat oily fish a couple of times a week and although I am even less comfortable with that, and aim to eventually eliminate it, I accept it is where I am for now. As such, I continue to push my diet and continually test the bounds of how much I can go without further damaging my health. It hasn’t been an easy journey so far and as yet, is by no means over.

I think the lesson here is to adapt when you need to but strive to do the least harm possible. I knew that when I needed to make adjustments for the sake of my health that I didn’t want to suddenly abandon my beliefs. To that end the majority of my meals are still completely plant-based; and invariably when I share food on my Instagram account, I share only plant based food. Not because I am trying to deceive but because I firmly believe that plant based is best.
Love and Light (from a work in progress)

Stella xx

Living the Good Life : Going Natural

reworkLike most people I am super conscious of doing my best to care for the environment, and over the years have addressed some of my less Eco friendly habits and made a number of simple changes to my lifestyle. Particularly when it comes to cleaning materials. In themselves these changes aren’t dramatic; just little tweaks here and there but I’ve always felt that if we all make little changes it is far better than a few people going all out. Don’t get me wrong, I am filled with admiration for those who live a completely natural and zero waste lifestyle, but I also realise that ingrained habits and fear of change can make such a huge life adaptation seem insurmountable. Not to mentioned the perceived expense of an Eco lifestyle. I am quite a thrifty person by nature and loathe waste – a habit I learned at the knee of my maternal Grandparents and great Aunt, who were very much of the make do and mend generation.

If like me, ‘speed clean with me’ videos on Youtube are a guilty pleasure, then you will also be aware of the sheer volume of different cleaning products these guys and gals employ to ensure their homes sparkle like a new pin. I watch with a fascinated horror as they mix and match the various chemical laden products; each of them sporting a different synthetic perfume – it makes me cough just thinking about it. The truth of the matter is you don’t need very much to keep your house clean and smelling fresh.

A simple mix of distilled water, bicarbonate of soda and a few drops of essential oils (peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender and lemon are all antibacterial) makes an effective cleaner for kitchens and bathrooms and will leave the room smelling heavenly. Borax added to water can be used to remove mold and mildew, and pure soap flakes dissolved in a little hot water can be used in place of commercially bought washing up liquid

Likewise, My favourite cleaner for the hob and oven is a sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda, the pulp from our home-made lemonade and a spritz of white vinegar or lemon juice. There is something incredibly satisfying about how the bicarb fizzes when the lemons and juice/vinegar are added – mad scientist vibes abound! Once my potion is applied I walk away and let it do it’s thing for while, then just wipe it off with a clean cloth.
Speaking of cloths; I have to admit I have fallen prey to the lure of brightly coloured and patterned microfibre cloths in the past. It is regrettable given that they constantly shed microplastics into the environment when in use but even more so when being laundered. I intend to use them until they get too tatty but rather than replacing them with new ones I’ve earmarked some bath towels that are looking past best that I will cut down to make new cloths. In the meantime I’m going to invest in a ‘Guppy Friend’, which is a wash bag that you place all your synthetics in that prevents the microplastics entering the environment. A guppy friend is a good purchase for washing all your Yoga and fitness wear in too, as these types of garment being made mainly of synthetic fabrics tend to be one of the worst offenders.

When it comes to clothes, know your materials – buy good quality natural fabrics. Firstly they tend to last longer but also wash and wear better. Fabrics to look out for are cotton, linen (sometimes called flax), ramie, viscose, silk and wool/cashmere – I know the last three are a controversial suggestion if you are vegan, however if you are purchasing these materials pre-loved (95% of my clothing is pre-loved) I personally think it is better to buy those than buy synthetics like polyester, acrylic and nylon. Synthetic fabrics should be no go because of the aforementioned release of microplastics. When you consider that a 6kg load of synthetic fabrics releases around 700,000 microplastic fibres into the environment it really gives you pause for thought.

As if our clothes releasing microplastics wasn’t bad enough just scan your laundry detergent many of those also contain them too, in fact many commercial cleaning products do and are terribly damaging to wildlife and the environment. Try soapnuts in your laundry instead. They are completely natural, can be composted and can be used a couple of times before they are depleted of their natural saponins. If you miss your clothes being scented add a couple of drops of essential oil to the fabric softener compartment instead of the aforementioned softener. We’ve tried everything from tried and tested lavender to not so conventional star anise in our laundry and love both. Peppermint and eucalyptus is a lovely combination too.

In coming weeks I will be sharing more of the recipes for our home-made cleaning products and possibly make a Youtube video on the subject too.

Love and Light

Stella

“Let me sleep and dream of sheep”

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On any given evening I don’t know what the night holds for me. Will I fall and stay asleep or will I be thumb twiddling at four a.m?

I have struggled with bouts of insomnia and poor sleep most of my adult life and having tried various things I now have a routine that seems to be helping and although my sleep isn’t perfect, it is much better than it has been. Whether you are a serial insomniac like me or just suffer occasionally here are a few of my tips for a restful night :

  1. Bookend your day with exercise: I start the day with a walk in my local area or spend some time on the cross trainer followed by an invigorating flow yoga practice. At the opposite end of the day I like to do a short Yin Yoga practice to help me wind down for the day. I, like most of the world subscribe to Yoga with Adriene on Youtube and have found it to be an amazing resource. I have linked my favourite sequences down below.
  2. I love coffee and historically was second only to the fictional Lorelei Gilmore in my consumption of it. These days however I limit myself to 2 cups per day, both of which are consumed before 11 am.
  3. Research has shown that magnesium is important for aiding with restful sleep. I prefer to boost mine by eating lots of lovely magnesium rich foods throughout like Kale, spinach, buckwheat, quinoa, avocados, almonds, cashews, chia and pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate. Legumes (lentils, chickpeas and beans) are also a rich source but I have to be more careful with these as they are high FODMAP and really don’t agree with my tum. Bananas are also an excellent source and are my supper of choice.
  4. Post my evening yoga practice I don’t have any interaction with screens – phone, T.V or laptop. This is my official wind down that lets my brain know that I am preparing for sleep. In this time I take apply a lavender body oil. Sometimes this will be homemade blend of fractionated coconut oil, a few drops of lavender and either a drop of patchouli or frankincense or a ready made product like the bath and shower drops from The Scent to sleep range by Neom Organics. Once the oil is applied I jump into the shower where the heat and steam helps to release the essential oils that aid a restful night. I then do all the usual skincare ablutions and brush my teeth.
  5. I jump in to my Pjs (I find natural fibres are better for sleep) and make a warm. I know many people swear by a milky drink at bedtime but they just don’t do it for me and I prefer a herbal tea. I’m currently drinking one from Neals Yard Remedies that has the herbs chamomile, lavender and valerian in it. I do really like it but I also love the super affordable chamomile tea from Aldi and the Pukka Night Time Tea. Valerian, chamomile and lavender are know soporifics and through personal experience can vouch that I sleep better when I have had a tea with them in. I have also read some great research regarding the benefits of lemon balm for aiding sleep, however I haven’t tried it because it interferes with my thyroid medication.
  6. I pop some lavender essential oil into my diffuser and climb into bed between 9- 10 pm. I like to read for a short spell while I drink my tea. I tend to read fantasy fiction in the evenings because A. it is my favourite genre and B. I have found that it is more restful than other genres; for example If I read non-fiction books my brain tends to whirl all night.
  7. The last jobs of the night are to turn off my diffuser and  to spritz my pillow with a sleep spray. I’m currently using the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray from This works; it was a thoughtful gift from my sister, Victoria and I love it. I do sleep noticeably better and I think that’s because it contains a blend of yummy essential oils rather than just lavender.

If you struggling with sleep – which given the current anxiety surrounding the Covid -19 pandemic isn’t surprising – then just implementing some of this routine might help you too.

I’m aware that I have mentioned a number of proprietary products in this blog and want to reassure you that I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies mentioned. These are the products that I have found genuinely help me and I have supplied links to either good offers and reliable suppliers

Love and light

Stella

Image by Vladislav Muslakov

Yoga with Adriene:
https://youtu.be/RQyX48NtDrQ

Fractionated coconut oil https://mothernaturesgoodies.co.uk/fractionated-coconut-oil-pure-natural-authentic-base-carrier-aromatherapy/

Lavender Oil https://www.nealsyardremedies.com/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-oils-and-blends/essential-oils/2182.html

Patchouli Oil https://www.nealsyardremedies.com/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-oils-and-blends/essential-oils/2135.html

Frankincense Oil https://www.nealsyardremedies.com/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-oils-and-blends/essential-oils/2237.html

Neom Organics https://www.neomorganics.com/products/perfect-nights-sleep-bath-oil

Pukka Tea https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/shop/product/pukka-night-time-tea-60097652?skuid=097652&brandId=344

Neals Yard Remedies Herbal Tea https://www.nealsyardremedies.com/wellbeing/herbal-remedies/herbal-teas/8360.html

Pillow Spray https://www.thisworks.com/sleep/sleep-category/pillow-sprays/deep-sleep-pillow-spray-1145.html

 

The Holistic Glow-Up Part 4: Manifest

Today as a part of our Holistic Glow-Up i’m going to invite you to create a vision board. This may be a familiar practise for those already conversant with “The Secret” and the Law of attraction. For those new to this idea I here cite the philosopher and author, Bob Proctor: “The Secret gives you anything you want: happiness, health and wealth.” The premise is that whatever you want should be asked for in the affirmative “I want abundant health” because when you ask in the negative “I don’t want to be ill” the universe doesn’t hear the ‘don’t’ and proliferates the poor health.

Even if you are a sceptic and don’t believe in the law of attraction there is scientific evidence demonstrating that those who create vision boards tend to be successful at fulfilling there dreams and ambitions by the virtue of being confronted by their board regularly; ergo receiving a daily reminder of what they are striving for. The reminder motivates.

The things you will need for this project are: a piece of paper – the size is up to you-, scissors, images and quotes that really resonate and inspire you, glue, paper (to write quotes and the purpose of your board on) and pens.

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I like the idea that if I put something out there into the universe in a positive way, the thing I need will come to me. Personally I have no interest in using the law of attraction to gather material things to myself but many people do and seemingly with great success. The theme of your board therefore, is entirely up to you. The images you choose may relate to the home and lifestyle you would like, to finding the perfect partner or success at work……you get the drift.

Once you have all the materials for the board have a play about with the images and find an arrangement that is pleasing and inspiring and start cutting and gluing. Be sure to include something handwritten, whether that be a quote, an affirmation or a positive statement outlining the purpose of the board i.e I feel happy and have abundant health. I feel that something handwritten in addition to any printed quotes you may have is a direct statement of intent, it is an active act.

Below is a quick hyperlapse video of the process I used for my health and well being board. When you board is complete place it where you will see it daily and take time to look and reaffirm what you wish to receive.

I know there will be those who think “what is she on about, has she gone mad?” Perhaps I have, but I leave you with the wisdom of Kate Bush commenting in her song ‘Strange Phenomena’ on the occurrence of deja vu, synchronicity and by extension the law of attraction. A great many of us will have experienced the events she describes and who is to say how these events come about: coincidence? Manifestation? Well; that’s entirely up to you.

 
Strange Phenomena

Soon it will be the phase of the moon
When people tune in.
Every girl knows about the punctual blues
But who’s to know the power behind our moves?

A day of coincidence with the radio
And a word that won’t go away.
We know what they’re all going to say.
“G” arrives–“Funny, had a feeling he was on his way!”

We raise our hats to the strange phenomena.
Soul-birds of a feather flock together.
We raise our hats to the hand a-moulding us.
Sure ’nuff, he has the answer
He has the answer
He has the answer, be-duh-be-duh-be-duh-be-duh…
“Om mani padme
Om mani padme
Om mani padme hum.”

You pick up a paper. You read a name.
You go out. It turns up again and again.
You bump into a friend you haven’t seen for a long time
Then into another you only thought about last night.

You hear your sister calling for you
But you don’t know where from.
You know there’s something wrong
But you don’t want to believe in a premonition.

We raise our hats to the strange phenomena.
Soul-birds of a feather flock together.
We raise our hats to the hand a-moulding us.
Sure ’nuff, he has the answer
He has the answer
He has the answer, be-duh-be-duh-be-duh-be-duh…
“Om mani padme
Om mani padme
Om mani padme hum.”

The Holistic Glow-Up Part 3: Tending your Garden

Holistic Glow-Up Part 3 – Tending Your Garden.

We started the holistic glow up process by looking within ourselves, finding our passions and truths and then showing gratitude for all those blessings. It is now time to look without. It is time to be selfless and guide our energy into making a difference. It doesn’t matter how small the gesture may seem; we all know the truism “mighty oaks from little acorns grow” and sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.

_MG_4644We are all moved by different things, some of them may be concerns for friends, family and neighbours who are having to self-isolate at the moment due to their age or health conditions. They may be vulnerable, frightened and feel alone with worries both practical and emotional. A small gift would make a huge difference to that person’s health and wellbeing, the gift of time – something some of us have an abundance of right now, through our own isolation.

There are safe and powerful ways you can help lift that gloom, a chat across the street or on the phone, picking up groceries, helping with minor tasks. Making a difference doesn’t have to be a macro deal. Micro is good too.

Many of us are living in a lockdown bubble which has, in the main resulted in greater kindness and compassion towards people. I do hear neighbours shout across hedges to one another, offer to pick up shopping; and all those good things I mentioned earlier are easy, and come about easily enough.

Every week a large number of us stand at our windows and doors to clap and show support for our hardworking NHS staff, and YES it is a beautiful way to show appreciation for all those hard working people, and gives us a sense of community, and shared appreciation. It makes us feel good too. But it shouldn’t end there. It is as important to be aware of their needs, the challenges they and other key workers face right now, and – most importantly – are they being met. Just as you would ask a neighbour how they’re doing and what they might need.

Bringing about positive change is easy, just like shouting ‘hello’ over the fence. Once you understand the issues, the concerns, you can take to social media to raise their profile, sign and share a petition, write to your MP. Every small action grows into a bigger one. Our healthcare and other key workers need our appreciation more than ever, they also need our informed support.

Tending your garden, metaphorically speaking is about giving your energy and care to something outside of yourself so that it can flourish. It is about freely giving care and energy to wider societal and environmental issues at a local and global level. Take a positive stance and be proactive, help the vulnerable in your area, support the work of charities by getting involved or donating, fight animal cruelty, buy sustainable and organic – there are so many ways to make a difference. I believe all of us doing the small things, adding our voice to a chorus is more effective than a few going all out. Tending your garden is a life long pursuit that should continue long after the current crisis is resolved. Give of yourself in a sustained act of care, attention and devotion to the world beyond you.

Above all, be kind.

The Holistic Glow Up – “This above all: to thine own self be true”

Re-connect and Ignite

“This above all: to thine own self be true”

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Many of us have more time on our hands during this period of lock down in the UK and may be feeling stressed, anxious and frankly, a little lost. As the frenzy of modern life is halted we may feel the pull to embrace interests and passions long cast aside, and to reconnect with our true selves. With many external distractions stripped away you might feel like you’re raising your head from the slumber of homogeneity and wondering “how the hell did I get here?” Never has there been a better time to take time to reflect on and sit quietly with oneself as now.

In this first day of our holistic glow up, I invite you to take this journey of self re-discovery, to meditate, reflect and implement changes that will, when this current craziness is over, re-ignite the essence that is uniquely you, and you alone.

Find yourself an empty notebook that you can dedicate to your journey, it doesn’t have to be fancy it’s what you place in it that matters. On the very first page write something that you have read that has resonated with your soul. It could be a poem, a line from a novel or film, a mantra or words of wisdom passed to you from a loved one. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it touches you.
If you are a visual person you could if you wish select an image instead, this could be a painting, a place or photograph that reminds you of a time when you felt most connected to yourself. Equally, there’s nothing to stop you adding both written word and imagery. In fact I encourage to make this journal incredibly personal throughout.

When you have a quiet moment to yourself I invite you to recall:

1. What were you passionate about at in your late teens and early 20s?
2. What was it about that thing that put fire in your belly
3. Does it still resonate with you now or do you feel it was a childish fancy that you simply outgrew.
4. What are you passionate about now? Is it related -even tangentially- to the passion of your younger days, if ‘yes’ think about how, and if no ‘think about how they differ, are they indicative of growth, stagnation or apathy?

Find a quiet place and meditate on these questions, remember what it feels like to be ignited and driven by a passion. Tap into the concomitant emotions and then just sit with them for a while. Take a few minutes at the end of your practice to note down in your journal the answers. Remember, this is your journal you can keep your answers as long or as short as you like.

We can, I acknowledge have been a bit idealistic and fanciful in our younger days, but you can’t deny how great that vigour and passion was. We felt like we could change the world…….. and so you can now in your own way.

I’d like to close today’s post with the wonderful and very poignant words of Walt Whitman:

The untold want life and land ne’er granted,
Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.

 

Image Credit: Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

Wellness and the road to equilibrium

I haven’t been great at blogging over the last couple of years, with the number of times I post dwindling to about once or twice a year.  I assumed it was due to waning interest and a lack of things to say on my part, but it transpires that my apathy was medical and not indifference or laziness. In March I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, not exactly life threatning I know, but debilitaing when left untreated. Which it had been for over 12 months. Given that both my Mother and late Grandmother also had the condition you would think I would have recognised the signs. But I didn’t. What I saw was weight gain and assumed my diet was to blame, so went on ever stricter diets to counteract it. I was sleeping poorly so embarked on a mission to eliminate all stimulants such as caffeine. I was fatigued all the time; just walking upstairs would leave me so exhausted I would have to lie down for a while. My mestrual cycle became erratic, so I assumed I was going through early menopause and spent a fortune on supplements to help ease the transition. I ached and assumed it was my age.

It came as a relief when I discovered what was actually wrong.  It took about 8 weeks for ther thyroid medication to enter my system fully, but I did notice changes after 2 weeks.  I have been slowly building up my activity from about then, and have adopted a proactive approach to my health and wellbeing in the months following diagnosis.  I think the activity that has most impacted on my wellbeing both mentally and physically is my Yoga practise. Having practised at home for years on and off,  I decided it was finally time to seek out proper instruction so that I could get the most out of my practise. Fortunately for me our local Health Centre has just moved into a beautiful new purpose built building and offers an array of activities including Tai Chi, Pilates and of course Yoga.

Twice a week I do a Kundalini Yoga class and the once a week a Yin Yoga class. Both present enormous challenges for me and are helping me with both my physical limitations – years of HIIT training and weight training has left me with short tightened muscles, likewise an injury sustained in dance as a teen has resulted in a very sore and tight left hamstring-  but also my emotional and mental wellbeing.  Kundalini is very breath focussed and is cleansing and uplifting, whereas the Yin is concerned with holding each Asana for anything up to 5 mins, so isn’t the most comfortable experience but is incredibly rewarding. Interestingly both practises have stirred up emotions concerned with my past that I thought long forgotten, but as the tension in my hips, back and chest is released so are the negative emotions. Slowly with the help of my practise I am able to let them go and feel for the first time in a long time I am starting to find my equilibrium.